Culture Consumed Tuesday

Jul. 25th, 2017 10:50 pm
vass: Jon Stewart reading a dictionary (books)
[personal profile] vass
Books

Read Ann Leckie's Provenance (in ARC. It's coming out on the 26th of September.) Spider mech, spider mech, does whatever a spider mech does. (Disconcert people, mainly.) This is in the same universe as the Radch trilogy, but in a different region and with different characters, voice, and tone. I have some friends who couldn't get into Ancillary Justice, wanted to like it but found it too hard going, and I would be curious if this one worked better as an entry point for them.

Leckie's repeatedly cited Cherryh as an influence, and if you think of the universe the Ancillary books are set in as like Cherryh's Alliance/Union universe, a big canvas covering a lot of territory in time as well as space, then this book in relation to its universe is a bit like a railway junction. It opens some new routes, introduces some new important players, but the most important universe-scale historical events (as opposed to system-scale or planet-scale or individuals) are offstage.

To say more about voice and tone: the Radch books are in first person, and that person is Breq, who is... Breq. Over two thousand years old, and even if you consider the destruction of Justice of Toren as a kind of rebirth, by the point we meet her she's a hypercompetent badass who's been surviving on her own in her single body for nineteen years. Also she's not a human, so there's that.

Ingray isn't Breq. She's very much human (and has an entirely reasonable terror of AIs,) a lot younger (I don't think her exact age is stated, but early twenties would be my guess,) and infinitely less sure of herself. She's also spent her entire life to date having her head messed with by her shitty family. My first two impressions, right from the first three chapters of this book, were: one, you can really tell the author was spending a lot of time in airports when she wrote this; and two, Ingray has the sort of family life where the closer your geographic proximity to your relatives, the more difficulty you have with being a decent person. The rest of this book bore this out (I mean the family, although there were definitely more airport-equivalent scenes too.)

If you're one of the people who disliked Breq because she was "too perfect" (I disagree with you about her being perfect, but) you might find Ingray and her smaller scale problems (compared to entire empires and species) more relatable.

If the Radch trilogy is about personhood and the fight to be recognised as a person when you don't fit a society's definition of who counts as a person, then Provenance about growing into oneself not as a person (that was never in question for Ingray) but as an adult (a coming of age that, by contrast, Breq never had the luxury of needing.) And if the Radch trilogy is about resisting societal/systemic forces, Provenance is about resisting social, personal pressures (family and peers.)

Finished Aliette de Bodard's The House of Binding Thorns. And after this and Provenance I'd like a short break from books about difficult family situations, please! I liked this better than The House of Shattered Wings, but the tone was still bleaker than I usually go for. Characters I particularly liked: Madeleine, back from the previous book; Thuan the dragon prince, and Berith and Francoise the Fallen/human couple trying to manage outside the Houses. Grandmother Olympe, the elder of the community where Berith and Francoise live, was also pretty great. And I warmed more to Asmodeus than I did in the first book.

Unfortunately, I think I'm the wrong audience for this. The things The House of Shattered Wings and The House of Binding Thorns do well (decayed elegance, gothicism, Paris, fallen angels), they do really well, but they're not things I particularly love (I don't dislike them, they're just not my catnip.) So, like, I can't actually rave about these books, but I do want to wave them really hard at people who do love those things.

Comics

Some zines I ordered from Rooster Tails's Etsy store showed up, and he kind of threw in a bunch of queer fanart glossy note cards (maybe to make up for a delay, idk, I'm not complaining!) and they're so beautiful and I didn't know I needed a picture of Daria holding Jane's hand and saying "I hate you the least," or adorably cartoony Finn smooching Poe, or cartoony Gabrielle climbing Xena like a tree, but I definitely did need those things. Now I'm trying to decide whether to keep or send to people.

The zines are #my gender is..., three tiny A6 cardbound volumes made in response to answers people gave the author when he asked people to fill in the blank.

Mainlined 17776, which is web based multimedia rather than comics, but I'm putting it in this category because what everyone's comparing it to is Homestuck. It's about satellites watching football in an unimaginably future, but also post-scarcity/post-singularity anxiety and Millennialism (as in epochs, as well as as in snake people) and play as the ultimate point of human existance, and it's funny and elegiac and cool and reminds me of David Foster Wallace in some ways.

That said, it is worth talking about who's at the centre of this narrative. No, not robots. No, not humans. Americans. White, suburban, minivan-driving, 80s-and-90s-born Americans. So conflated with the essential nature of humanity that they don't even notice they're doing it. Even the probes are two American probes and one European (but not Russian) one. I mean, Mangalyan does exist, you know? And so does Chang'e 2 and Kirari. And Libertad I and Fajr and... I mean, not all of those are still in space, or left Earth's orbit, but they could. Not to mention that it's science fiction and at the present date JUICE is still in development, why not a future Ghanaian or Iranian satellite mission? Which is not even my point, my point is that the regressive fantasy that the humans fall back into when faced with the crushing boredom of their eternal lives is... the 1960s and 1970s but without the race riots or Stonewall or Watergate.

It's still a good story/multimedia work/thing, and I still enjoyed it. I just... that particular nostalgic fantasy makes me very tired sometimes. And no, not tired in a way that makes me want to give up on the weary work of human endeavour/struggle/progress to take refuge in looking back down at the things that are really important to us/humanity, i.e. a sport which people in my country don't play.

TV and Movies

Watched the first episode of Black Sails. Was unimpressed. I hear it gets better, though. Flint's fury at the stolen log page reminded me of this.

Music

Gave my sister the Hamilton soundtrack for Christmas last year or her birthday this year (I forget which -- my gift-giving punctuality standards are seriously slipping at the moment.) Success: she's hooked. Very hooked.

Games

Third week of [community profile] hexarchate_rpg. So far haven't panicked and run away yet (me, not my character) so that's good.

Still playing Binding of Isaac. In one especially good run, I met Isaac's mother for the first time, and defeated her! Which meant that, next time I got to that level, defeating her led to having to climb into her womb and fight more monsters there. Which... is definitely a narrative choice a person could make.

Started playing Hexcells, a puzzle game; not to be confused with Hexels, a different puzzle game. The latter is like 2048 but in three directions not two; the former is kind of like a griddler/nonogram, but in three directions and its own specific language of clues. Played all the way through Hexcells, then started Hexcells Plus. Got the Perfectionist achievement for the original Hexcells. Then Hexcells Plus. Then started Hexcells Infinite, and am at 90% of that.

The problem with me and Hexcells is not the logic. I'm not super great at the logic, but with time and effort and occasional appeals to online walkthroughs I can succeed (usually by speaking the chain of logic out loud over and over because I can't hold the branches in my head long enough otherwise.) The problem is that that one of the achievements is to do all the games with zero (or only one) mistakes, and the way my brain works (or the way my working memory doesn't work) it's very easy for me to make one stupid error too many and ruin an hour of work. Which is really frustrating and upsetting. At least Hexcells Infinite lets you save your progress. The first two games didn't, so if you need a break before finishing the level, you have to leave the app open.

Garden

The compost bin is full. That took about three months to fill a 220L bin. I had to look up what one does once the bin's full. Leave it to cure for a month or so while starting a new bin, apparently. Or alternatively, lift the bin off the compost (it doesn't have a bottom) and set it down next to the compost, shovel whatever still looks like vegetable peelings and cat litter back into the bin, and use whatever just looks like soil to grow things. (But not herbs and vegetables, because this is cat litter compost, so it's contaminated with toxoplasmosis. This compost can nourish pretty flowers and Native Plants To Encourage Local Species.)

Food

Baked scones. Also tried out a couple of recipes from my long backlog of bookmarked Recipes To Try Someday:

- Jack Monroe's Queen of Hearts jam tarts recipe. Not too bad given how seldom I make pastry. If you have fifty grams of butter and a scant cup of plain flour and some jam, this is an okay thing to do with those ingredients, but the scones were better.

- AoM Bratwurst Sandwich. This contains one thing I eat normally (mustard), one thing I've had decades ago but haven't cooked with (bratwurst), and two things I hadn't had before (sauerkraut, pumpernickel.) The bratwurst and mustard and sauerkraut were good. The pumpernickel... yeah, no, next time I make this I'll just use a dark rye.

I could have adapted to the flavour, but its lack of structural integrity meant that according to the Earl of Sandwich litmus test this is not even a sandwich. (i.e. "I pretend I am the original Earl of Sandwich. I have asked for non-bread foods to be brought to me inside bread, that I might more easily consume them one-handed while gambling. This does not enable my wretched regency habits. This is not what I asked for. I do not deign to grace it with the name of my house.")

This would fall apart in his hand, scattering boiled rye grains all over his elaborate necktie and playing cards.

Admittedly, the degree of difficulty was higher for me since I had to eat it one-handed while fending off a very interested black and white cat with the other hand.

Other

Broke my daily meditation streak at 219 days. Very pissed off about it, in a not zen at all way. The last time this happened it was at 149 days. Forming habits is hard for me. (This is not a request for reassurance or advice. Especially not advice.) Took four days off meditating out of pique.

Cats

Have been fighting a lot these last few days. At first I thought Beatrice was the main instigator, but last night while she was aggressively licking Dorian, I saw him nip her.

He hasn't learned to lift the toilet lid yet, but it's hard for me to remember to leave it down since my already established habit was to close the door but leave the lid up.

Cats update

Jul. 23rd, 2017 03:33 am
vass: Icon of Saint Ignatius being eaten by lions (eaten by lions)
[personal profile] vass
He's being a terrible Dory again. (Sung to the tune of 'I'm telling a terrible story' from The Pirates of Penzance.) This time his evidence exculpatory is that I won't let him use the indoor swimming pool. (No, not the sink. And I don't have a bathtub.)

So he learned to turn the lever sort of door handles and also swing on them in such a way that he can open an outward opening door from the outside. I am pondering technological solutions. I hear there's a form of child lock that works on cats. Until then I'm leaving the lid down and putting a barrier in front of the door, but I expect that won't hold him for long.

Classical Gas

NSFW Jul. 16th, 2017 10:21 pm
glinda: Teal'c *indeed* (indeed)
[personal profile] glinda
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Fic: Shining Armour (Yuri!!! on Ice)

Jul. 16th, 2017 10:04 pm
el_staplador: Yuri Plisetsky from 'Yuri!!! on Ice' sticking his tongue out; caption 'makes me wanna barf' (yuri on ice)
[personal profile] el_staplador
I posted a fic. It's not at all the sort of thing I usually write...

Shining Armour (1900 words) by El Staplador
Chapters: 1/1
Fandom: Yuri!!! on Ice (Anime)
Rating: General Audiences
Warnings: No Archive Warnings Apply
Relationships: Michele Crispino/Emil Nekola, Michele Crispino & Sara Crispino
Characters: Michele Crispino, Emil Nekola, Sara Crispino, Yuri!!! on Ice Ensemble, Original Characters
Additional Tags: Alternate Universe, Alternate Universe - toyshop, Fluff and Angst, Angst with a Happy Ending, Experimental Style
Summary:

They came out of the factory on the same day. They were packed in the same box, sent to the same shop, displayed on the same shelf. But now somebody's bought the lady and left the knight behind. Nobody understands what a disaster this is, except maybe the robot on the shelf above...




I have also managed to post my assignment for Rare Ships!!! on Ice, a whole day before the deadline. This, by contrast, has my grubby fingerprints all over it. (At least, I think it does. I shall be interested to see if anyone guesses.)
glinda: welcome to chicago (chicago)
[personal profile] glinda
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So Fresh, So Clean

Jul. 12th, 2017 01:01 am
heartandginger: (paris)
[personal profile] heartandginger
I usually take my shower at night, and I always have to listen to music when I do. I've been doing that since I was barely a teenager. While I love being clean, I don't like taking showers because my hair is so thick. Both the washing and drying processes are a pain in the ass. That's probably why I have to have music in the bathroom -- to help pass the time.

More often than not, I listen to one of several 80s stations on Spotify. Lots of variety and surprise gems. It really spurs the shower thoughts. It's so great.

Joe Jackson's "Is She Really Going Out With Him" was the first song played. I had not heard that in forever. Back in college, I had a mix CD with a song that sampled it. I wish I still had that CD. I lost it long ago, and haven't been able to find that song anywhere. I don't remember the name of the band nor the song. "What a bummer," I thought to myself.

And the shower thoughts continued ...

Whatever happened to Joe Jackson? He wrote some fantastic songs back then. You know, I actually don't know that many Joes. There's Joe B. That's one. I hadn't seen him in years. Joe, Joe... and then there's the Joe that was Lili Taylor's obsession in Say Anything. I used to love love love that movie, until I came to the horrid realization that I was doormat Lili Taylor and my ex was Joe. Ugh, good lord. I really wasted a lot of years on that one. And that goddamn overplayed Peter Gabriel song. Don't even remind me the name of that song. I can't risk getting it stuck in...

And "In My Eyes" begins to play. I kid you not.

That song is really harshing my mellow. Now I don't want to shave my legs. I'll just suffer through, though. I don't want to risk slipping on the tile, busting my head wide open on the way to skip one song. No one finding my body for days. That'd be my luck. That song will be over soon. Right?



Wrong. It ended up being the extended live version. At least 14 minutes. Of course.

The song finally ended, and I was done with my shower. But then Spotify redeemed itself and played for me The Pogues's "Love You Till The End"*.

!!!!

My legs got shaved after all, and we all lived happily ever after.

The End.

*Actually a 90s song, but I'm not being picky, tonight.


webanalytics

Write like no one's reading

Jul. 11th, 2017 01:26 pm
heartandginger: (heart + ginger)
[personal profile] heartandginger
I migrated my journals from LJ to DW a few days ago, but I have yet been able to forever delete the LJ journals. Yesterday, I spent some time in the memories and photo albums because they did not migrate over into those sections in DW.

And that was weird.

It wasn't just weird. It was emotional AF. Not only did my eyes well up, but I began to full-blown cry. A lot. But it didn't end there. It was when I realized that I have had not allowed myself to cry in a long, long time that I truly lost it. And I lost it good.

I used to be no stranger to crying. It seems I always had a crisis around the corner. It was almost as if they were set on the calendar, like bills and my period.

I honestly never really had all my life together, either. (I don't think anyone truly does.) Just a little bit, here and there. And those sections were in rotation, too. It wasn't something that bothered me a lot; I just learned to accept it.

And I guess that's what happened to my tears. I learned to accept things like sadness, disappointment, failure, and loss. I had no need to cry. I just carried on.

Sure, I cried occasionally. But not about me. I cried over things like a rescued puppy video on Facebook, or when David Bowie died.

Or when Hillary lost the election. I do not want to ever cry like that, again. Never ever. No.

But a good, gut-wrenching, get-it-all-out cry? I can't remember the last time.

And now I'm wondering if that's exactly what I've been missing in my life. If memory serves me correctly, it was those epic cries that sparked my sad ass to make changes for the better. To be honest, I haven't really made that many changes for the better in quite some time.

So, that's where I am, right now. Please excuse the mess and the raccoon eyes, for a bit -- there's a pity party going on.
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